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Thread: Desi grocery stores in U.S.

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  1. #1
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    Desi grocery stores in U.S.

    Right from childhood in a small hamlet in TN, grocery stores have been places of interest to me

    Small little things like the "knife" that the shopkeeper used in my grandparent's suburb of Virudhunagar to cut coconut into "chillu" always fascinated me. (It was a customized tool shaped out of the bicycle's pedal stick).

    And their continuous evolution in a small Kerala town Palakkad where they started accepting credit cards in the time frame around 1992. ( I won't forget my first Andhrabank VISA card that had no significant fee, gave a generous limit and didn't demand me to open an account with them etc).

    I made it a point to visit only those stores with a credit card sign since then (while in India) as I thought the sale to me had to be accounted properly and no tax cheating happens

    Then there were the "margin-free" stores that issued a customer loyalty / membership card (new concept for Kerala) in late 90's that caught the fascination, with terrific speed by the billing girls operating their keyboards

    (However, the fastest keyboard girls belonged to the pazhamudhir nilayams of CBE, amazing!)

    No wonder, I observe the desi grocery stores in U.S. a little more-than-normal-way and often pick on them...

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  3. #2
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    The first time I visited an Indian grocer in U.S. was back in 1996 while in CA for a 3 month technology transfer stuff. As we packed enough stuff for 3 months (lentils / spices etc), there was no need to go to one and none was close also. So, we were generally content with the visits to Safeway across the street (so thrilled with the Safeway then, taking pictures etc).

    When one of our roommates wanted to buy 230v stuff to take home, a local person drove us to Berkeley and that's when I saw an Indian store in U.S. for the first time. We ate masala dOsA there and bought curry leaves (till today other than desi stores, none else carries kaRivEppilai in the metro Detroit area...in Florida, people grow in their backyard).

    I was so disappointed that the Berkeley store had horrible appearance and not clean then

  4. #3
    Senior Member Diamond Hubber VinodKumar's's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by app_engine View Post
    till today other than desi stores, none else carries kaRivEppilai in the metro Detroit area...in Florida, people grow in their backyard).
    Not in Georgia also.

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    Don't get me wrong, this thread is not to karichchukkottify on the negatives of our grocers in NA

    Last week, during my long ride from MI to CA and back, stopped at the Bombay Grocer at Columbus (Westerville). Had a few words of appreciation to the chEttan who owns it for the clean / neat store. (Picked up the 'katha paRayumpOL' dvd there along with 'palEri mANikkam' which I'm yet to watch).

    The unique thing about this store I noticed was 'ragasiya' storage of frozen vegetables, unlike other stores where the freezers have glasses to look through.

    Here, one has to pull-up-open a few "ice-cream-box-like" freezers to locate your frozen murungaikkAi

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    BTW, the dirtiest store I've seen in U.S. is in Hamtramck, MI (in the metro Detroit area). Possibly dirtier than any store in Kerala or may be TN as well.

    Don't remember the name but it's adjacent to a dirty restaurant (possibly same owner).

    Actually most desi stores in Hamtramck (clothing etc) are absolutely pitiable to look at. And this city has > 19% desi (mostly Bengali / Urdu speaking).

    Interestingly, this city is the home of the famous polish pazkee (pronounced "punch-kee") a fatty doughnut sold on popular bakeries on the "fatty-Tuesday", the day prior to the ash wednesday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by app_engine
    I noticed was 'ragasiya' storage
    I have seen this ragasiya storage in couple of groceries in the Dallas area and also in NW Arkansas. NW Arkansas now has a proper exclusive Indian grocer but about a year or so back we had to contend with a gas station which houses Indian stuff in a couple of aisles and with very limited Indian vegetables. Anyway we have moved out of NWA and not sure whats the latest there. Jaiganesh is still there I think

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    Senior Member Diamond Hubber venkkiram's Avatar
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    எனக்கும் இந்த தேசிக் கடைகளுக்கும் கொஞ்சம் கூட ஒத்துப்போகாத ஒரு விஷயம் "தேங்காய்". எத்தனை முறை வாங்கினாலும் வீட்டிற்கு போய் உடைத்துப் பார்த்தால் கெட்டுப் போனதாய் இருக்கிறது. ஒவ்வொரு முறையும் ஒரு டாலர் தண்ணியாய் கரைந்தாலும், இன்னொரு முறை, இன்னொரு முறை என நானும் கஜினி போல முயன்றுகொண்டுதான் இருக்கிறேன். என்னதான் இருந்தாலும் Grated தேங்காயை விட கொப்பரைத் தேங்காய்தான் சிறப்பல்லவா! எனக்குத் தெரிஞ்சு ஒரே ஒரு தடவை நல்ல தேங்காய் கிடைத்திருக்கிறது. எப்படியென்றால், பொருட்களை விலைபோடும் போது, தேங்காய் இருந்த பாலிதீன் பை கீழே விழுந்து தேங்காய் இரண்டாய் பிளந்து விட்டது. கடைப்பெண் "வேறொன்று எடுத்து வாருங்கள். இது உடைந்து விட்டது!" எனச் சொல்லியும், நல்ல தேங்காய் என்பதால், அதையே பார்சல் பண்ணி விட்டேன் வீட்டுக்கு.
    சொல்லிச் சொல்லி ஆறாது சொன்னா துயர் தீராது...

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by venkkiram
    எனக்கும் இந்த தேசிக் கடைகளுக்கும் கொஞ்சம் கூட ஒத்துப்போகாத ஒரு விஷயம் "தேங்காய்". எத்தனை முறை வாங்கினாலும் வீட்டிற்கு போய் உடைத்துப் பார்த்தால் கெட்டுப் போனதாய் இருக்கிறது.
    மெட்ரோ டெட்ராய்ட் பகுதியில் இது பிரச்னை இல்லை. "ஜோ ரன்டாஸோ" பழம்/காய்கறிக்கடை செயின் இங்கு பிரபலம். அங்கு நல்ல தேங்காய் (மற்றும் எல்லாக்காய் பழங்களும்) கிடைப்பதால் தேஸிக்கடைகளை யாரும் சீண்டுவதில்லை - கறிவேப்பிலை ஒன்று தான் தேஸிக்கடை எக்ஸ்க்ளூசிவ்.

    மிச்சிகன் / இல்லினாய் / ஒஹையோ பகுதிகளில் உள்ள "மையர்" (Meijer) கடைகளிலும் நல்ல தேங்காய் கிடைக்கிறது. என் கொலம்பஸ் உறவினர் இங்கு தான் வாங்குகிறார், கெட்டுப்போயிருந்தால் மாற்றியும் தருகிறார்கள்

  10. #9
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    Historically speaking, the store in Greenville, SC was the 2nd desi grocer I've been to, in 2003, after the earlier visit of 1996.

    This was a funny store, totally disorganized, with many-days-old-vegetables etc and the store owner was more interested in getting resume from visitors than selling stuff it seemed (My b-i-l said he also claimed to be a relative of PVN Rao)

    In any case, the most positive experience with that store was it was renting out some TF and I watched anbE sivam for the first time, renting from this store

  11. #10
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    My current supervisor lady was declaring that 'Vani stores' in Farmington Hills is the best in the metro Detroit area, better than the Patel Bros where I'm a regular.

    So, paid a visit to that Vani (owner Malayali) and found the store to be organized in a somewhat-unusual way for this area. (Separate room for videos, for e.g.) Has a lot of old TF / MF collections

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